Small Wars Journal
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Journal

by R. Evan Ellis | Fri, 01/14/2022 - 4:38am | 0 comments
The predictable triumph by Maduro loyalists in Venezuela’s rigged November 2021 elections was a symbolic nail in the coffin for the attempt by the de jure government of Juan Guaido to restore the more liberal type of democracy previously prevailing in the country. Venezuela now seems to ever more resemble Cuba, with an authoritarian government in control for the long haul. Yet while Venezuela is unlikely to return to democratic governance anytime soon, parallels to Cuba conceal the complex dynamic between regime figures, external state actors, and criminal and terrorist groups that is shaping the country’s future.
by Francisco Sollano Jr | Tue, 01/11/2022 - 5:22pm | 0 comments
This article is a mixed methods research study on Genaro García Luna—former head of Mexican Federal law enforcement—and his ties to the Sinaloa Cartel and other Mexican officials involved in the criminal organization from 2003 to 2008. This study thus explores the role and influence of corrupt Mexican officials that allowed for a secure and efficient illegal trafficking of drugs inside Mexico and into the United States. It should be noted that, not all individuals found in this Social Network Analysis (SNA) are assumed to be guilty or have been proven so via conviction in a court of law. The presumption of innocence is an important concept that applies to the actors discussed here.
by Mahmut Cengiz | Mon, 01/10/2022 - 2:57pm | 0 comments
When the Taliban took over Afghanistan at the end of August 2021—an event precipitated by the withdrawal of all remaining US troops in the country—questions about the Taliban’s ability to target the Western world and fears that Afghanistan would become a haven for al-Qaeda arose immediately in the minds of many government officials and non-government observers. Such concerns were well-grounded. This article analyzes the capacity of ISIS and al-Qaeda in terms of operational and organizational capabilities, use of violence, geographical expansion, and ideological inspiration for lone actors to determine which group—ISIS or al-Qaeda—is the greater threat to global security.
by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, by Jorge A. Pérez González | Mon, 01/03/2022 - 1:20pm | 1 comment
Field Report from Tamaulipas: English language version of "Informe de campo: Seguridad en Tamaulipas Hoy: Una Paz Simulada." Since 2010, the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas has been in a state of high-intensity armed conflict. Earlier that year, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas—who at one point worked together—began a brutal confrontation that led to levels of violence never before seen in the state. In the framework of the Mérida Initiative and the ‘war on drugs’ declared by former President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006–2012), the extreme conflict between two violent organized crime groups—which had militarized their strategies, diversified their operations and had access to high-caliber weaponry-intensified with the entry of federal forces into the state.
by Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, by Jorge A. Pérez González | Fri, 12/31/2021 - 5:44pm | 0 comments
Field Report from Tamaulipas in Spanish: Desde el año 2010, el estado fronterizo mexicano de Tamaulipas se ha mantenido en una situación de conflicto armado de alta intensidad. A principios de ese año, el Cartel del Golfo y los Zetas—quienes en algún momento trabajaron de forma conjunta—comenzaron una brutal confrontación que desencadenó en niveles de violencia nunca antes vistos en la entidad. En el marco de la Iniciativa Mérida y la “guerra contra las drogas” declarada por el expresidente Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006-2012), el conflicto extremo entre dos violentos grupos del crimen organizado—que habían militarizado sus estrategias, diversificado sus operaciones y que tenían acceso a armamento de alto calibre—se intensificó con la entrada de las fuerzas federales al estado.
by Andrew Milburn | Sun, 12/26/2021 - 6:16pm | 0 comments
In the summer of 2014, the Islamic State surged across the Syrian border into Northern Iraq, seizing Mosul almost without a fight. Beyond the city to its east, however, lay territory claimed by the Kurds; and here the Islamic State’s headlong advance foundered against a breakwater of Peshmerga defenses that surrounded Mosul on three sides. For the next eighteen months, Peshmerga and Islamic State fighters manned op- posing trench lines only a few hundred meters apart in a scene reminiscent of the First World War.
by Daniel Weisz , by Nathan P. Jones, by John P. Sullivan, by Robert Bunker | Mon, 12/20/2021 - 3:51pm | 0 comments
An armed cell composed of ten members using high caliber weapons and six vehicles, two of which were reported to have been set on fire as a distraction, broke into the jail (Centro de Readaptación Social de Tula – Tula Social Correctional Center or CERESO) in Tula, Hidalgo, on 1 December 2021. The cell helped nine inmates escape including the presumed leader of the Pueblos Unidos (United Towns or Villages), José Artemio Maldonado Mejía, Alias “El Michoacano,” “El R” or “El Rabias.” Maldonado Mejía is an alleged head of the huachicloero (petroleum theft) enterprise known as the Cártel Pueblos Unidos. Numerous media reports mention the use of car bombs or explosives during the operation.
by Philip Wasielewski | Sun, 12/12/2021 - 9:45am | 0 comments
Russia’s use of subversion over the past three decades to undermine the military, economic, psychological, and/or political strength of liberal democracies via such means as propaganda/disinformation, paramilitary forces and proxies, assassinations, cyber-attacks, and similar methods is not a new form of warfare but instead is consistent with actions taken by Moscow ever since the October Revolution of 1917.
by Shannon Houck, by Joshua Gramm, by Brian Branagan, by John Crisafulli | Sun, 12/12/2021 - 9:36am | 0 comments
The weaponization of neurotechnology – neurowarfare – poses unique challenges in a strategic environment that emphasizes competition between major powers. As powers compete for influence against one another, neuroweapons that directly target the brain to sway an adversaries’ actions are likely to be employed with increasing frequency. No longer should we conceptualize the human mind as a target for psychological influence through communication operations over long periods of time; neurotechnology paves the way for influence via physical brain modification to achieve almost immediate psychological shifts. Special Operations Forces (SOF) are uniquely positioned to confront the complex and dynamic threats neurowarfare poses but is currently under-prepared to take up the challenge. In line with USSOCOM’s 2020 ‘Innovation for Future Threats’ priority, the present article aims to fill this gap by providing actionable recommendations: (1) immediately implement neurowarfare training across the SOF enterprise; (2) invest in research on (a) cognitive degradation caused by neuroweapons, and (b) neuroweapons detection, disruption, and targeting; and (3) develop doctrine on neurowarfare. Ultimately, SOCOM needs to take a proactive stance by developing ‘neuro SOF professionals’ equipped to navigate this new battlespace.
by Anibal Serrano | Wed, 12/08/2021 - 5:57pm | 2 comments
This article reviews the evolution of the 18th Street Gang in Los Angeles to Barrio 18 in Central America. 18th Street’s transnational shift was motivated by “internal and transnational migration flows,” as well as, the US increasing deportations of “foreign” criminals. As 18th Street members arrived in Central America, they brought their own US-based gangster culture, a particular way of dressing, talking, and bravado. These members were deported to countries where they had little to no understanding of the cultural dynamics, as many were born in Central America but raised in the United States. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were new environments, and each presented unique dynamics that 18th Street members had to adapt to, to survive.

Blog Posts

by Dave Maxwell | Mon, 01/17/2022 - 9:33am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 01/16/2022 - 11:31am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 01/15/2022 - 10:41am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 01/14/2022 - 9:58am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 01/13/2022 - 9:39am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 01/12/2022 - 9:49am | 1 comment

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by SWJ Editors | Tue, 01/11/2022 - 9:35pm | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Tue, 01/11/2022 - 9:55am | 17 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sun, 01/09/2022 - 12:30pm | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Sat, 01/08/2022 - 11:49am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Fri, 01/07/2022 - 9:05am | 1 comment

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by Dave Maxwell | Thu, 01/06/2022 - 9:31am | 0 comments

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by Dave Maxwell | Wed, 01/05/2022 - 9:18am | 1 comment

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by SWJ Editors | Tue, 01/04/2022 - 2:54pm | 1 comment
Small Wars Journal-El Centro (SWJ–El Centro) is pleased to announce the Class of Fellows and Associates for 2022. Senior Fellows are active in managing El Centro . Fellows have already made significant and distinguished contributions to the field through the course of their career. Associates are actively engaged in research or practice in the region and in transnational organized crime or insurgency. Interns are emerging scholars and practitioners.